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Differential geometry

Differential geometry is a mathematical discipline that uses the

techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra and
multilinear algebra to study problems in geometry. The theory of plane and
space curves and surfaces in the three-dimensional Euclidean space formed
the basis for development of differential geometry during the 18th century
and the 19th century.

Since the late 19th century, differential geometry has grown into a field
concerned more generally with the geometric structures on differentiable
A triangle immersed in a saddle-shape
manifolds. Differential geometry is closely related to differential topology
plane (a hyperbolic paraboloid), as
and the geometric aspects of the theory of differential equations. The well as two diverging ultraparallel lines.
differential geometry of surfaces captures many of the key ideas and
techniques endemic to this field.

History of development
Riemannian geometry
Pseudo-Riemannian geometry
Finsler geometry
Symplectic geometry
Contact geometry
Complex and Kähler geometry
CR geometry
Differential topology
Lie groups
Bundles and connections
Intrinsic versus extrinsic
See also
Further reading
External links

History of development
Differential geometry arose and developed as a result of and in connection to the mathematical analysis of curves and
surfaces.[1] Mathematical analysis of curves and surfaces had been developed to answer some of the nagging and
unanswered questions that appeared in calculus, like the reasons for relationships between complex shapes and curves,
series and analytic functions. These unanswered questions indicated greater, hidden relationships.
The general idea of natural equations for obtaining curves from local curvature appears to have been first considered by
Leonhard Euler in 1736, and many examples with fairly simple behavior were studied in the 1800s.[2]

When curves, surfaces enclosed by curves, and points on curves were found to be quantitatively, and generally, related by
mathematical forms, the formal study of the nature of curves and surfaces became a field of study in its own right, with
Monge's paper in 1795, and especially, with Gauss's publication of his article, titled 'Disquisitiones Generales Circa
Superficies Curvas', in Commentationes Societatis Regiae Scientiarum Gottingesis Recentiores in 1827.[3]

Initially applied to the Euclidean space, further explorations led to non-Euclidean space, and metric and topological


Riemannian geometry
Riemannian geometry studies Riemannian manifolds, smooth manifolds with a Riemannian metric. This is a concept of
distance expressed by means of a smooth positive definite symmetric bilinear form defined on the tangent space at each
point. Riemannian geometry generalizes Euclidean geometry to spaces that are not necessarily flat, although they still
resemble the Euclidean space at each point infinitesimally, i.e. in the first order of approximation. Various concepts based
on length, such as the arc length of curves, area of plane regions, and volume of solids all possess natural analogues in
Riemannian geometry. The notion of a directional derivative of a function from multivariable calculus is extended in
Riemannian geometry to the notion of a covariant derivative of a tensor. Many concepts and techniques of analysis and
differential equations have been generalized to the setting of Riemannian manifolds.

A distance-preserving diffeomorphism between Riemannian manifolds is called an isometry. This notion can also be
defined locally, i.e. for small neighborhoods of points. Any two regular curves are locally isometric. However, the
Theorema Egregium of Carl Friedrich Gauss showed that for surfaces, the existence of a local isometry imposes strong
compatibility conditions on their metrics: the Gaussian curvatures at the corresponding points must be the same. In
higher dimensions, the Riemann curvature tensor is an important pointwise invariant associated with a Riemannian
manifold that measures how close it is to being flat. An important class of Riemannian manifolds is the Riemannian
symmetric spaces, whose curvature is not necessarily constant. These are the closest analogues to the "ordinary" plane and
space considered in Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry.

Pseudo-Riemannian geometry
Pseudo-Riemannian geometry generalizes Riemannian geometry to the case in which the metric tensor need not be
positive-definite. A special case of this is a Lorentzian manifold, which is the mathematical basis of Einstein's general
relativity theory of gravity.

Finsler geometry
Finsler geometry has Finsler manifolds as the main object of study. This is a differential manifold with a Finsler metric,
that is, a Banach norm defined on each tangent space. Riemannian manifolds are special cases of the more general Finsler
manifolds. A Finsler structure on a manifold M is a function F : TM → [0, ∞) such that:

1. F(x, my) = |m| F(x, y) for all x, y in TM,

2. F is infinitely differentiable in TM ∖ {0},
3. The vertical Hessian of F2 is positive definite.

Symplectic geometry
Symplectic geometry is the study of symplectic manifolds. An almost symplectic manifold is a differentiable manifold
equipped with a smoothly varying non-degenerate skew-symmetric bilinear form on each tangent space, i.e., a
nondegenerate 2-form ω, called the symplectic form. A symplectic manifold is an almost symplectic manifold for which
the symplectic form ω is closed: dω = 0.

A diffeomorphism between two symplectic manifolds which preserves the symplectic form is called a symplectomorphism.
Non-degenerate skew-symmetric bilinear forms can only exist on even-dimensional vector spaces, so symplectic
manifolds necessarily have even dimension. In dimension 2, a symplectic manifold is just a surface endowed with an area
form and a symplectomorphism is an area-preserving diffeomorphism. The phase space of a mechanical system is a
symplectic manifold and they made an implicit appearance already in the work of Joseph Louis Lagrange on analytical
mechanics and later in Carl Gustav Jacobi's and William Rowan Hamilton's formulations of classical mechanics.

By contrast with Riemannian geometry, where the curvature provides a local invariant of Riemannian manifolds,
Darboux's theorem states that all symplectic manifolds are locally isomorphic. The only invariants of a symplectic
manifold are global in nature and topological aspects play a prominent role in symplectic geometry. The first result in
symplectic topology is probably the Poincaré–Birkhoff theorem, conjectured by Henri Poincaré and then proved by G.D.
Birkhoff in 1912. It claims that if an area preserving map of an annulus twists each boundary component in opposite
directions, then the map has at least two fixed points.[4]

Contact geometry
Contact geometry deals with certain manifolds of odd dimension. It is close to symplectic geometry and like the latter, it
originated in questions of classical mechanics. A contact structure on a (2n + 1)-dimensional manifold M is given by a
smooth hyperplane field H in the tangent bundle that is as far as possible from being associated with the level sets of a
differentiable function on M (the technical term is "completely nonintegrable tangent hyperplane distribution"). Near each
point p, a hyperplane distribution is determined by a nowhere vanishing 1-form , which is unique up to multiplication by
a nowhere vanishing function:

A local 1-form on M is a contact form if the restriction of its exterior derivative to H is a non-degenerate two-form and
thus induces a symplectic structure on Hp at each point. If the distribution H can be defined by a global one-form then
this form is contact if and only if the top-dimensional form

is a volume form on M, i.e. does not vanish anywhere. A contact analogue of the Darboux theorem holds: all contact
structures on an odd-dimensional manifold are locally isomorphic and can be brought to a certain local normal form by a
suitable choice of the coordinate system.

Complex and Kähler geometry

Complex differential geometry is the study of complex manifolds. An almost complex manifold is a real manifold ,
endowed with a tensor of type (1, 1), i.e. a vector bundle endomorphism (called an almost complex structure)
, such that

It follows from this definition that an almost complex manifold is even-dimensional.

An almost complex manifold is called complex if , where is a tensor of type (2, 1) related to , called the
Nijenhuis tensor (or sometimes the torsion). An almost complex manifold is complex if and only if it admits a
holomorphic coordinate atlas. An almost Hermitian structure is given by an almost complex structure J, along with a
Riemannian metric g, satisfying the compatibility condition

An almost Hermitian structure defines naturally a differential two-form

The following two conditions are equivalent:

where is the Levi-Civita connection of . In this case, is called a Kähler structure, and a Kähler manifold is a
manifold endowed with a Kähler structure. In particular, a Kähler manifold is both a complex and a symplectic manifold.
A large class of Kähler manifolds (the class of Hodge manifolds) is given by all the smooth complex projective varieties.

CR geometry
CR geometry is the study of the intrinsic geometry of boundaries of domains in complex manifolds.

Differential topology
Differential topology is the study of global geometric invariants without a metric or symplectic form.

Differential topology starts from the natural operations such as Lie derivative of natural vector bundles and de Rham
differential of forms. Beside Lie algebroids, also Courant algebroids start playing a more important role.

Lie groups
A Lie group is a group in the category of smooth manifolds. Beside the algebraic properties this enjoys also differential
geometric properties. The most obvious construction is that of a Lie algebra which is the tangent space at the unit
endowed with the Lie bracket between left-invariant vector fields. Beside the structure theory there is also the wide field of
representation theory.

Bundles and connections

The apparatus of vector bundles, principal bundles, and connections on bundles plays an extraordinarily important role in
modern differential geometry. A smooth manifold always carries a natural vector bundle, the tangent bundle. Loosely
speaking, this structure by itself is sufficient only for developing analysis on the manifold, while doing geometry requires,
in addition, some way to relate the tangent spaces at different points, i.e. a notion of parallel transport. An important
example is provided by affine connections. For a surface in R3, tangent planes at different points can be identified using a
natural path-wise parallelism induced by the ambient Euclidean space, which has a well-known standard definition of
metric and parallelism. In Riemannian geometry, the Levi-Civita connection serves a similar purpose. (The Levi-Civita
connection defines path-wise parallelism in terms of a given arbitrary Riemannian metric on a manifold.) More generally,
differential geometers consider spaces with a vector bundle and an arbitrary affine connection which is not defined in
terms of a metric. In physics, the manifold may be the space-time continuum and the bundles and connections are related
to various physical fields.

Intrinsic versus extrinsic

From the beginning and through the middle of the 18th century, differential geometry was studied from the extrinsic point
of view: curves and surfaces were considered as lying in a Euclidean space of higher dimension (for example a surface in
an ambient space of three dimensions). The simplest results are those in the differential geometry of curves and
differential geometry of surfaces. Starting with the work of Riemann, the intrinsic point of view was developed, in which
one cannot speak of moving "outside" the geometric object because it is considered to be given in a free-standing way. The
fundamental result here is Gauss's theorema egregium, to the effect that Gaussian curvature is an intrinsic invariant.

The intrinsic point of view is more flexible. For example, it is useful in relativity where space-time cannot naturally be
taken as extrinsic (what would be "outside" of it?). However, there is a price to pay in technical complexity: the intrinsic
definitions of curvature and connections become much less visually intuitive.

These two points of view can be reconciled, i.e. the extrinsic geometry can be considered as a structure additional to the
intrinsic one. (See the Nash embedding theorem.) In the formalism of geometric calculus both extrinsic and intrinsic
geometry of a manifold can be characterized by a single bivector-valued one-form called the shape operator.[5]

Below are some examples of how differential geometry is applied to other fields of science and mathematics.

In physics, differential geometry has many applications, including:

Differential geometry is the language in which Einstein's general theory of relativity is expressed. According to the
theory, the universe is a smooth manifold equipped with a pseudo-Riemannian metric, which describes the
curvature of space-time. Understanding this curvature is essential for the positioning of satellites into orbit around
the earth. Differential geometry is also indispensable in the study of gravitational lensing and black holes.
Differential forms are used in the study of electromagnetism.
Differential geometry has applications to both Lagrangian mechanics and Hamiltonian mechanics. Symplectic
manifolds in particular can be used to study Hamiltonian systems.
Riemannian geometry and contact geometry have been used to construct the formalism of
geometrothermodynamics which has found applications in classical equilibrium thermodynamics.
In chemistry and biophysics when modelling cell membrane structure under varying pressure.
In economics, differential geometry has applications to the field of econometrics.[6]
Geometric modeling (including computer graphics) and computer-aided geometric design draw on ideas from
differential geometry.
In engineering, differential geometry can be applied to solve problems in digital signal processing.[7]
In control theory, differential geometry can be used to analyze nonlinear controllers, particularly geometric control[8]
In probability, statistics, and information theory, one can interpret various structures as Riemannian manifolds, which
yields the field of information geometry, particularly via the Fisher information metric.
In structural geology, differential geometry is used to analyze and describe geologic structures.
In computer vision, differential geometry is used to analyze shapes.[9]
In image processing, differential geometry is used to process and analyse data on non-flat surfaces.[10]
Grigori Perelman's proof of the Poincaré conjecture using the techniques of Ricci flows demonstrated the power of
the differential-geometric approach to questions in topology and it highlighted the important role played by its analytic
In wireless communications, Grassmannian manifolds are used for beamforming techniques in multiple antenna

See also
Abstract differential geometry Important publications in differential geometry
Affine differential geometry Important publications in differential topology
Analysis on fractals Integral geometry
Basic introduction to the mathematics of curved List of differential geometry topics
spacetime Noncommutative geometry
Discrete differential geometry Projective differential geometry
Gauss Synthetic differential geometry
Glossary of differential geometry and topology Systolic geometry

1. be
2. Wolfram, Stephen (2002). A New Kind of Science. Wolfram Media, Inc. p. 1009. ISBN 978-1-57955-008-0.
3. 'Disquisitiones Generales Circa Superficies Curvas' (literal translation from Latin: General Investigations of Curved
Surfaces), Commentationes Societatis Regiae Scientiarum Gottingesis Recentiores (literally, Recent Perspectives,
Gottingen's Royal Society of Science). Volume VI, pp. 99–146. A translation of the work, by A.M.Hiltebeitel and
J.C.Morehead, titled, "General Investigations of Curved Surfaces" was published 1965 by Raven Press, New York. A
digitised version of the same is available at for free
download, for non-commercial, personal use. In case of further information, the library could be contacted. Also, the
Wikipedia article on Gauss's works in the year 1827 at could be looked at.
4. The area preserving condition (or the twisting condition) cannot be removed. If one tries to extend such a theorem to
higher dimensions, one would probably guess that a volume preserving map of a certain type must have fixed points.
This is false in dimensions greater than 3.
5. Hestenes, David (2011). "The Shape of Differential Geometry in Geometric Calculus" (
Shape%20in%20GC-2012.pdf) (PDF). In Dorst, L.; Lasenby, J. Guide to Geometric Algebra in Practice. Springer
Verlag. pp. 393–410. There is also a pdf (
available of a scientific talk on the subject
6. Marriott, Paul; Salmon, Mark, eds. (2000). Applications of Differential Geometry to Econometrics. Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-65116-5.
7. Manton, Jonathan H. (2005). "On the role of differential geometry in signal processing" (
mp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=1416480). Proceedings. (ICASSP '05). IEEE International Conference on Acoustics,
Speech, and Signal Processing, 2005. 5. pp. 1021–1024. doi:10.1109/ICASSP.2005.1416480 (
9%2FICASSP.2005.1416480). ISBN 978-0-7803-8874-1.
8. Bullo, Francesco; Lewis, Andrew (2010). Geometric Control of Mechanical Systems : Modeling, Analysis, and Design
for Simple Mechanical Control Systems. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-1-4419-1968-7.
9. Micheli, Mario (May 2008). The Differential Geometry of Landmark Shape Manifolds: Metrics, Geodesics, and
Curvature (
phd.pdf) (PDF) (Ph.D.). Archived from the original (
df) (PDF) on June 4, 2011.
10. Joshi, Anand A. (August 2008). Geometric Methods for Image Processing and Signal Analysis (http://users.loni.ucla.e
du/~ajoshi/final_thesis.pdf) (PDF) (Ph.D.).
11. Love, David J.; Heath, Robert W., Jr. (October 2003). "Grassmannian Beamforming for Multiple-Input Multiple-Output
Wireless Systems" ( (PDF). IEEE
Transactions on Information Theory. 49 (10): 2735–2747. CiteSeerX (
wdoc/summary?doi= doi:10.1109/TIT.2003.817466 (
Further reading
Bloch, Ethan D. (1996). A First Course in Geometric Topology and Differential Geometry.
Burke, William L. (1985). Applied Differential Geometry.
do Carmo, Manfredo (1976). Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces. ISBN 978-0-13-212589-5. Classical
geometric approach to differential geometry without tensor analysis.
do Carmo, Manfredo (1994). Riemannian Geometry.
Frankel, Theodore (2004). The geometry of physics: an introduction (2nd ed.). ISBN 978-0-521-53927-2.
Gray, Alfred (1998). Modern Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces with Mathematica (2nd ed.).
Kreyszig, Erwin (1991). Differential Geometry. ISBN 978-0-486-66721-8. Good classical geometric approach to
differential geometry with tensor machinery.
Kühnel, Wolfgang (2002). Differential Geometry: Curves – Surfaces – Manifolds (2nd ed.). ISBN 978-0-8218-3988-1.
McCleary, John (1994). Geometry from a Differentiable Viewpoint.
Spivak, Michael (1999). A Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry (5 Volumes) (3rd ed.).
ter Haar Romeny, Bart M. (2003). Front-End Vision and Multi-Scale Image Analysis. ISBN 978-1-4020-1507-6.

External links
Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001) [1994], "Differential geometry" (
p/d032170), Encyclopedia of Mathematics, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. / Kluwer Academic Publishers,
ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4
B. Conrad. Differential Geometry handouts, Stanford University (
Michael Murray's online differential geometry course, 1996 (
A Modern Course on Curves and Surface, Richard S Palais, 2003 (
Richard Palais's 3DXM Surfaces Gallery (
Balázs Csikós's Notes on Differential Geometry (
N. J. Hicks, Notes on Differential Geometry, Van Nostrand. (
MIT OpenCourseWare: Differential Geometry, Fall 2008 (

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